The man behind the phenomenal music video for Childish Gambino's "This Is America" has revealed new details about the track.
In a new interview, Ibra Ake, a writer for Donald Glover's FX series Atlanta has discussed the hidden meanings and references within the viral video, which was released this weekend.
'This Is America' Breakdown
On Saturday, May 5, the actor-rapper hosted Saturday Night Live where he debuted the new track "This Is America." A music video directed by Hiro Murai was also simultaneously been uploaded on YouTube.
The track and the highly political music video became the talk of the town, earning praises from other singers and celebrities including Taraji P. Henson, Bruno Mars, Armie Hammer, Miguel, Naomi Campbell, Common, Olivia Wilde, Nicole Richie, and Adele.
"We try to make stuff in a vacuum in a way where we're not influenced by what was made before us, which usually — in the media specifically — comes from a white world and a white infrastructure," Ake told The Takeaway via The Huffington Post.
After watching the four-minute video repeatedly in the past week, fans found several cultural and political references — from Glover's crazy dancing to the identity of his victims.
The music video has since been viewed over 61 million times on YouTube.
"We reduced it to a feeling — a very black feeling, a very violent feeling, but also a very fun feeling," Ake continued. "If you're at the club and there's a shooting outside, you still have to go get food afterwards and you have to compartmentalize that. Being marginalized is compartmentalizing trauma to exist in the world. I can't stop being black because of trauma and discrimination. I still have to live life and forge on."
He also confirmed the references to black man caricatures of Jim Crow, a set of rules that repressed the black community in the past and Fela Kuti, the Nigerian musician whose looks and moves were emulated by Glover in the track. Ake also said that the rapper's facial expressions were a shout-out to Jim Carrey's The Mask.
The point, Ake said, is to normalize blackness by presenting the community's art, culture, and history.
'This Is America' Praises And Criticisms
Most hailed Glover's "This Is America" as work of a genius. A writer for NBC called the music video downright "Shakesperean," pointing out the many allusions from American mythology of freedom, justice, and liberty within the video.
Forbes said that the track is, so far, Childish Gambino's "most authentic musical evolution of his career."
However, there are also some who were not happy about the show of violence against the black community in the music video. Twitter user Brittany Luse said the work triggered her own PTSD of experiencing racism.
I just don’t find depictions of graphic trauma/ violence particularly artful, esp in the context of state/ hateful violence against Black people, esp in a short form music video. My PTSD is real, but even if that weren’t a factor, I’m not sure I’d be able to stomach it. — Brittany Luse (@bmluse) May 6, 2018
I think the thing I’m struggling with is that I as a Black American woman, don’t need to see images like those to feel enraged. I am already enraged. I’m not trying to be cynical here, but I can’t help but wonder who this is supposed to provoke. — Brittany Luse (@bmluse) May 6, 2018
I really mean it when I say I’m not trying to be cynical. I’m just posing a question I ask myself a lot, and a question that I think a lot of Black creators struggle with: who are you talking to? — Brittany Luse (@bmluse) May 6, 2018
Watch the music video below.